Covering Up Your Asset When It Counts

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Physician's Money Digest, October 2006, Volume 13, Issue 10

No, you didn't read it wrong;the key to protecting yourfinancial assets, let alonegrowing them, is singular, not plural.It's not just investing in malpracticeinsurance, creating family trusts, orworking with an expert to create anasset protection strategy. What somany doctors overlook is that the mostimportant thing you can do to preserveyour financial future is to preserveyour health.

Statistically, the most likely cause fora physician's loss of financial wherewithalisn't a lawsuit, but being disabledduring their practicing years orbeing stopped completely by prematuredeath. For instance, I knew a doctorwho died in his 30s. Even thoughhe had a family history of colon cancer,he wouldn't get a colonoscopy until itwas too late. From this kind of example,I have learned that time allowsmiddle-class people like doctors tosave, grow, and amass the funds to buya home, educate our kids, and secure acomfortable retirement. And if wedon't have that time, at full productivity,all of our dearly held hopes andplans may disappear.

Practicing What We Preach

We all know the occasional doctorsin our groups or hospital dining roomswho still smoke, overeat, and/or don'tget daily exercise. Maybe we even seeone of those too-busy-to-change, overworkedpeople when we look in themirror. Maybe we are comfortablewith the hypocrisy of not practicingwhat we preach. As the old sayinggoes, "Cleopatra isn't the only Queenof DeNile?."

What's significant here is not the"tsk, tsk" element, but the fact that nottaking care of ourselves can be veryexpensive financially. Lost income,medical expenses, and ongoing fixedcosts are potentially ruinous and, ifyou stop to think about it, scary.

Committing to Health

As we know from our patients, it'shard to break bad habits in spite ofknowing what we should do and whywe should do it. Usually it takes them,and us, a personal brush with theafflictions we deal with at arm's lengthevery day to penetrate our patina ofpsychological invulnerability. I mightbe just as guilty as the next doctor, butI tell myself that I do keep trying.

You can't separate money from allthe other aspects of living, and certainlynot our health. That's a wake-up callthat all of us will get sooner or later.Taking better care of ourselves notonly helps to lengthen and improve thequality of our lives, it also pays. Yes,read the magazine, buy your insurances,and talk to your advisors. Butremember what the famous Pogo cartoonopined long ago: "We have metthe enemy and he is us."